I think I have suffered from some form of depression the bulk of my adult life.
It can last for months at a time or disappear overnight. One day I’ll feel especially low but the next day spring back. The tiniest thing can trigger a bout of depression. But I’ve never had any treatment whatsoever for it. No pills, no counselling, nothing.
Meeting the Counsellor
I was back at St. Georges Hospital for my follow-up appointment with the mental health counsellor that I met just after my operation. Then I was probably at my lowest point ever in my life, certainly since my father died when I was a child.
At least this time I’m not heading for the cancer departments – I’m sick of them.
The building is sightly rundown; in need of a lick of paint here, some filler there. But it’s fine really. There are several small groups in different rooms locked in deep conversations as I walked to the waiting room. My counsellor finally arrived and led me into a small office.
Depression: Suicidal Tendencies?
And then we talked. Well, I talked mostly and he listened and asked questions.
His main concern was my suicidal feelings and my general mental state when he last saw me. I was in a very dark place then, for sure.
I assured him that I didn’t feel like that so much at the moment. Since I’ve been discharged from hospital my mood has lifted, although I have many black days. Moreover, the fact that I am doing something positive about my health has also helped.
We talked about my past:
- My recent cancer diagnosis, biopsies and amputated finger
- My ongoing sarcoidosis struggles and return to taking steroids
- My son’s special needs and the protracted and deep-rooted uncertainty about his future
- The death of my dad when I was very young
- My mother’s persistent violence towards me and my siblings, especially my older sister, when we were young. And her ongoing care needs and progressive Parkinson’s disease. She’s firmly stuck in death’s waiting room. Indeed, if she was a dog, she would have been put down years ago. But we don’t have that option…
- My general malaise
He was attentive and understanding. He was never oppositional exactly; rather he would offer some insight and personal thoughts as I elaborated on how my life has panned out. One of my biggest problems was the way that a new problem would surface but would never resolve; lingering on like what seems forever. It can be extremely difficult to cope with.
Depression: Biggest Fear?
He asked me about my biggest fear. Easy: something happening to my kids. Specifically, I am terrified of dying too soon; leaving my kids without a dad. I am categorically not frightened of death itself; just leaving my kids way too soon. I know my daughter would cope as she has a strong character. But my son? He needs regular input as he continues to recover from his traumatic brain injury he suffered at 14 months old. We need to rebuild his brain connections as well as steer him through the school system and the disability minefield. Worse, I don’t believe that there is anyone who can do this for him besides me.
Firstly, his extended family either don’t think what has happened to him is that serious now and he has fully recovered. Or they simply don’t have the time or will to devote to him.
Secondly, my partner, his mum, just cannot cope with anything this complex or difficult. She doesn’t have the skills, patience or determination. So leaving him with her doesn’t feel like any real option at all.
I am, in effect, alone.
I have managed to muddle through really, that’s all. But with my health deteriorating rapidly, I honestly don’t know how much longer I will be able to keep going as I have.
Discharged But Further Help Available
My counsellor is satisfied that I’m NOT suicidal and at risk. So, he discharged me from the hospital psychiatric system as it’s not really set up for people like me. Instead, he refers my to my GP who can, if I want, organise further counselling or talking therapies for me, as well as a raft of support services available to everyone like The Samaritans and Crisis Line.
It’s good to know there is support available, but I can’t see myself using them. I typically manage and solve all of my problems myself.
But I am much more open to the idea now rather than just letting myself spiral downwards. We’ll just have to see how things go from here on in.